SONG PREMIERE: Tom Freund Shares Bright and Stirring Rendition of Graham Parker’s “Disney’s America”

Over the course of his career, singer-songwriter and Americana artist Tom Freund has released more than a dozen records, collaborated with legends such as Elvis Costello and Jackson Browne, pulled a half-decade stint on bass for alt-country pioneers The Silos, and has shared bills with everyone from Matthew Sweet to Guided by Voices. 

Now Freund is set to release his cover of the 1995 song “Disney’s America” by one of his heroes, legendary U.K. pub-rocker Graham Parker. The song is part of Freund’s forthcoming album, The Year I Spent in Space, which will be out early next year.

Says Freund, “To me the song asks, “Where did America go wrong? … It’s a song for a lost Virginia and nation, one consumed with money, brands and division”: ‘Where we drifted apart like runoff into the Chesapeake Bay.’ Singing about it might bring hope and awareness for a better, more connected and conscious America.”

Freund and Parker share quite a history (apart from Tom growing up in New York listening to Squeezing Out Sparks on repeat as a pre-teen). The two first met on a Silos tour opening for Parker; Freund is an alumnus of the Texas-based roots band.

When Freund’s 1998 album North American Long Weekend was released, BMG put Freund and Parker on a tour bus together for a tour called “Tellin’ Stories.” Freund recalls: “It was my first time in a bus and my first time getting to jam with Graham! We had oodles of fun, the tour was, curiously, sponsored by Hennessey (so we had enough to drink), and Radney Foster, Jeff Black, Graham and I did an ‘in the round’ on stage every night. We stayed in touch and Graham asked me to do some touring opening up as well as playing with him.” At one point they worked together on Los Angeles-based sessions for Parker’s album Your Country and played on The Late Late Show With Craig Kilburn show as a duo.

Glide is excited to offer an exclusive premiere of Freund’s colorful take on Parker’s “Disney’s America.Compared to the original, Freund’s rendition speeds up the tempo a bit and adds the twang of a steel guitar. His vocals and a brighter instrumental arrangement present the song in a new light that carries a bit more brevity than the original while also managing to be faithful. Beautiful harmonies and the timeless chorus serve as a reminder that Parker is one of the great underrated singer-songwriters of Americana and roots rock, and Freund isn’t too far with his own sound. The combination of piano, harmonica, and steel guitar give the song a sweeping sense of melancholy that really lets Freund’s vocals shine.

Tom Freund describes the inspiration behind covering this tune:

“In 2013, GP asked me to join him to appear in the Judd Apatow film This Is 40. I am with him in a club scene early in the movie playing slide guitar and singing backups on a great song, “Local Girls,” off his Squeezing Out Sparks album. A dream come true!  When he also had me on tour as opener and performing accompaniment with him for a couple years, I told him ‘someday I am gonna cover that song “Disney’s America” of yours’ [from the album 12 Haunted Episodes], and so he would give me a verse on stage each night. Well, here it is years later and during a pandemic and I thought, it’s time! I recorded it ‘live’ with me on piano and Michael Jerome on drums, and the Mastersons sang and played guitar with me on it later as well. I played it for GP and his reaction was immediately, ‘Hey mate, I’m well chuffed — love it!’ I was ecstatic to hear that. And the rest as they say is …”

The one and only Graham Parker offers his own take:

“Tom Freund is a singer/songwriter I’ve admired since the first time I heard him.  One of the very best America has to offer. His cover of ‘Disney’s America’ is hugely appreciated, and what a marvelous version it is!”


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